africa

Arabian Night: Journey Into Morocco

Emily Berry is a student at McKendree University. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Sevilla, Spain

Through ISA, I received the opportunity to travel to Morocco by bus, ferry, and camel. The journey began at 4 am on a Thursday morning; I was not certain of what to expect, but now my conclusion is that the great-outdoors of Morocco is breathtaking.

We passed through the roaming olive tree hills in Spain down to the Mediterranean coast, which we took a ferry across to mysterious Morocco. Upon arriving, I did not have an idea of the terrain, I only knew the countries location- top left region in Africa. Now, I know a lot more.

Beautiful Morocco

The mountains were a wonderful, welcoming sight, I could not stop taking pictures of all the views. We stayed in Fez, then the next day we would wind up in the Sahara Desert!

We made a few stops along the way; such as the Ziz Oasis- the edges into the unknown reminded me of the Grand Canyon, but this land was something completely different with luscious greenery. On the journey, we came across many animals: hungry barbary macaques, grazing sheep, and helping mules.

I felt as though we had traveled the whole world after seeing the beach, plains, snowy mountains, and finally the desert within two days. Erfoud is the city where we left the commercial bus to adventure to Merzouga on 4×4 jeeps. The sun was setting as each vehicle raced across the sand to the haimas (tents).

The Sahara Desert

Dunes were in every direction, and I had never planted my feet on such grainy, smooth land. Once we chose our floor beds, we were graciously welcomed with green-mint tea, peanuts, and a band. After devouring our couscous and veggies, the night came to life with dancing and singing.

Coincidentally, my friend from home, studying-abroad in Morocco, happened to be in the same camp. Spending the enjoyable evening dancing to the beat of the drums and singing with a guitarist by the fire made sleep almost impossible.

5:00 am was the best time to wake up; I walk out, then I look up to see the hundreds of stars that had never been seen so clearly. There was so much beauty to intake.

7:00 am arrived, and the sun popped up from behind the great dunes of Africa. Next thing I knew, people from a neighboring town were bringing an endless line of camels.

A local employee helped me properly dress a in turban to protect my hair/skin from the sun because the heat was intense. Next thing I knew, I was 5 feet taller atop a camel (I named Kenny). The camels took us through the desert with such ease, their feet designed perfectly for scaling the dunes that Seemed impossible to run up.

We gathered at the bottom of a dune to let our travel guides rest, then all the students were racing to the top. The sand sifting through my shoes was a therapeutic technique that I will never be able to duplicate- desert sand did not stick, it brushed off with such ease.

We reached the top, as my hands dug deep into the dune to feel the cool sand my body felt at peace. Sliding down the dune made me think of sledding- but without ice burn.

My time in Morocco went by in an instance. I will not forget the sun radiating over the golden Sahara, nor sharing endless laughter with friends, neither the stars shining bright on those Arabian nights.

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